Friday, June 26, 2015

Reading about the reading life: June 26, 2015

Welcome to another edition of "Reading about the reading life" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is where I collect stories about reading and the reading life. Basically, these are items related to reading, maybe writing and literacy, that I find interesting and think my four readers might find interesting as well with a little commentary.As with other features I do on this blog, I do it when I have time or feel like it. Comments are always welcome (within reason). 

  • Are you looking for some manly reading ideas? The Art of Manliness has a list of "36 Books for Ambitious Men." I must not be terribly ambitious, as I have only read one or two, and I have no interest in the rest. But hey, I am sure others may find the list of interest. If you do read from it, feel free to come back and let me know your thoughts.
  • Now this story about the urban fiction writer Zane caught my eye. It turns out that even though she has been very successful as a writer, well, as a manager of her finances she is not so good. Add to it that she has made some really bad decisions, and apparently surrounded herself with one or two dishonest persons, and you get a recipe for the disaster she is facing now, including being labeled as Maryland's top tax deadbeat. The story comes from The Washingtonian. I admit that I have been curious about her books and the urban fiction (often also known as "ghetto lit") genre, but I have not gotten around to reading any of her books yet. My local public library has some, so I may give one a try down the road.
  • Here is a little tidbit on etiquette and matters. Via 365 Letters, learn a bit on "How to Write a Thank-You Note."
  • Those who know me know that I try to read widely. They also know that I rarely read bestseller stuff. Shane Parrish makes an argument for avoiding best-selling books if you want to read more. Why? Well, in brief, "Avoid most best-selling books. These books are not fertile ground for learning and acquiring knowledge. In fact, most are forgotten within a year or two. Why learn something that expires so quickly?" I can certainly concur with that, especially when it comes to nonfiction books on topics that are pretty ephemeral. This is a topic that I could reflect upon further, so stay tuned. I might write more on it down the road. In the meantime, you can read the full essay via The Week
  • Need some ideas on how you can read more books? Zen Habits published a post that is "The Delightfully Short Guide to Reading More Books." It really is short, so you can absorb the advice then get to reading those books. 
  • Here is an older piece via Rhodia Drive on commonplace books and a suggestion for readers to start one if they do not have one. I do not have a formal commonplace book, but my personal journal at times does serve the function of a commonplace book. The definition of what a commonplace book is from the article is: ". . .essentially handwritten scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas, etc. These commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts, or facts they had learned and each book would be unique to its owners particular interests." Along with my musings, parts of my journals do contain some of the elements listed in the definition such as quotes, proverbs, and other concepts I want to remember. I also keep a form of an online commonplace book with my blog Alchemical Thoughts.
  • This is an item I have had sitting on my feed reader cue for a while, and I think it is a good reference source for readers' advisers as well as readers who want to learn more on the topic. A while back, The Advocate published "Yaoi: The Art of Japanese Gay Comics." The article provides a bit of a primer on yaoi manga and offers some titles to read. 
  • Another item that has been sitting on my feed reader cue, but an interesting one. Via Global Voices, a look at "Indigenous Libraries as Social Venues." 
  • On a note of interest that should get the attention of more than just librarians and researchers, The New York Times featured an editorial last week calling for the Congressional Research Service (CRS) to make its reports open and fully available to the public. Read the article, then you may want to contact your representatives and legislators to help implement this. Right now, few private nonprofits collect these reports and make them available, such as the Federation of American Scientists, and the only ones who often know about this are librarians. This is material that belongs to the people, and thus the people need to demand free and open access to it.
  • Also via The New York Times, an interesting piece about Malaysians discovering and reading more pulp fiction, usually via alternative sources like "pop-up" book markets since the regular bookstores rarely if not all carry those newer titles. Titles include topics such as "risqué tales of crime, horror and gritty young love that are written in Malay and aimed at young Muslim Malaysians."
  • And this is an oldie, but given today's historic decision given how we like graphic novels here, here are some notes via Lambda Literary on comic books embracing LGBTQIA characters.

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